Westminster Education Forum

Conferences that are scheduled to take place before September will be conducted online.
The format will mirror physical conferences organised by the Forum with speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish.
The conferences will be chaired and there will be opportunities for delegate questions and comments.
We will be contacting all participants in advance of each conference with full information and guidance on how to take part.
There will be some exceptions where conferences will be postponed, for instance those that would largely involve key stakeholders in the NHS or emergency services.
All participants affected by this will be informed as soon as possible.
If you’d like to speak to us over the phone about any booking-related queries, please call one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +044 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244

The next steps for the Further Education sector in England - governance, accountability and ensuring quality provision

Morning, Tuesday, 13th October 2020

Online Conference


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will examine key current issues for further education in England.

We expect discussion on implications that the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have on the sector, with colleges currently closed and students studying at home - and the phased re-opening of colleges for some students in key assessment years from the 1st June.

With the DfE currently drafting a White Paper for further education, those attending will also assess way forward for funding and oversight of the sector, looking at:

  • capital investment in the FE sector - priorities for the future,
  • financial sustainability - and collaboration between colleges and the impact of mergers and interventions,
  • managing change - restructuring colleges, the future of the merger process and supporting the fe workforce,
  • preparing for the future - FE and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and
  • FE and society - positioning colleges at the centre of their communities, and asserting their role in addressing local and national skills gaps.

The discussion in detail:

The COVID-19 crisis - impact, what has been learned, and the way forward:

  • How colleges have adapted to maintaining provision during the pandemic;
  • The future of delivery of teaching in the sector, with a potential move to more online or blended learning;
  • The potential implications of the likely reduction in international students, particularly in the short term; and
  • Initial implementation of T Levels, with colleges preparing to teach the new qualifications from this September.

Finance and collaboration:

  • The government approach to supporting and intervening to improve financial resilience and quality for colleges;
  • How increased funding and new investment by government is being used by colleges, and how to maximise its impact going forward;
  • Ways that colleges are effectively working together, particularly in overcoming funding pressures and to improve provision; and
  • In light of capital investment commitments by the government, how colleges can develop effective plans to ensure that the money is spent effectively.

Mergers and oversight:

  • Potential models for college governance with suggestions that some colleges might be brought under state control;
  • How colleges are adapting to the college oversight measures designed to improve the sustainability of the sector;
  • The future of the merger process and whether structural changes resulting from area reviews have led to a more robust and sustainable college sector and improved learning experience; and
  • Assessing steps taken by the FE Commissioner, such as structure and prospects appraisals (SPAs), in evaluating merger proposals and what can be learnt from the initial area review process.


  • Priorities for supporting the FE workforce and ensuring appropriate levels of expertise; and
  • Recruitment and retention of future leaders.

Contribution to the community and local economy:

  • How to cement the position of colleges as anchor institutions for their local communities, with Government recently urging colleges to engage with the £3.6bn Towns Fund in their local area;
  • What local communities and employers should be able to expect from colleges;
  • Strategies for improving connections and collaboration between colleges and local businesses;
  • The role colleges can play in tackling regional inequalities and improving local productivity through providing an effective lifelong learning service; and
  • The relationship between FE colleges and HE - including the future balance of funding and discussion on which sector should be providing which courses.

Why this is relevant: the context:

It takes place with:

  • The expected forthcoming publication of an FE White Paper by the Department for Education which will potentially focus on funding, qualifications, the workforce and careers;

The agenda:

  • An overview of the current landscape for the FE sector;
  • The independent review into the monitoring of FE college finances and financial management - key findings;
  • Improving the oversight of colleges and adapting to the new insolvency regime - mergers, restructuring and sources of funding;
  • Supporting best practice in governance and accountability of FE colleges, implementing the new insolvency regime, and next steps for funding;
  • Further education and the Fourth Industrial Revolution;
  • Enhancing FE provision in colleges - curriculum, careers advice and supporting progression, and learning from the impact of the pandemic and adapting to online delivery; and
  • The College of the Future - latest findings from the Independent Commission.

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

This one is no different. Places have been reserved by officials from the Department for Education; the National Audit Office and Department for International Trade.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speaker

Tara Murray

Deputy Director, Provider Market Oversight, Education and Skills Funding Agency

Keynote Speakers

Tara Murray

Deputy Director, Provider Market Oversight, Education and Skills Funding Agency

Lewis Cooper

Director, Independent Commission on the College of the Future

Paul McKean

Head of Further Education and Skills, Jisc

David Hughes

Chief Executive Officer, Association of Colleges


Peter Aldous MP

Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Employment


Shelagh Legrave

Chief Executive Officer, Chichester College Group

Professor Liz Atkins

Professor of Vocational Education and Social Justice, Institute of Education, University of Derby

Stefan Drew

Education Consultant and Former College Marketing Director

Stephanie Mason

Partner, RSM UK

Jon Brookes

Social Value Lead, Wates Group Services

Louise Misselke

Principal, Guernsey College

Professor Martin Doel

FETL Professor of Leadership in FE and Skills, University College London